Let’s check in with Islamorada

August 2 – It’s a busy time in the village with budget talks and a new Village Manager.

Henry Rosenthal, Vice Mayor of the Village of Islamorada, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s going on in the village.

Islamorada has welcomed their new village manager, Ted Yates, and it’s just in time for budget talks.

Rosenthal said, “The budget hearings are at 3 o’clock the 8th and 9th of next week. I encourage everybody to show up. It’s very important. We’re talking about a budget of $17 million. That’s quite considerable.”

Property values have gone up 18% and what will that mean as far as taxes are concerned?

A preliminary millage rate of 3.0 was approved in a 5-0 vote recently in Islamorada.

Another issue is building permits. A special call meeting will be held later in the month to talk about those.

The fills continue to be a discussion point.

Rosenthal said, “The fills remains a problem. It started back in 2014. At that time the state was willing to take care of all the expenses, but the council at that time felt that they wanted to be in charge, so they were in charge. And now we’re in charge. I looked at a letter that is in my files going back to 2019 from the Sheriff and he wanted to have a meeting with the DOT in reference to the fills. That’s three years ago. Nothing has happened. This has got to be taken care of. No parking signs have got to go up and they have to be enforced. For every action you have a counter action. There is a cost associated with everything you do. There’s a cost. Not necessarily monetary, but there is a cost. That’s the answer to the problem. Is enforcement. They don’t seem to understand that. Quite frankly, I sit there alone, but I’m determined to get the job done. It’s an interesting thing. Everybody wants to get reelected. If they’d sit down and focus what they could do to prove their worth to the public, they will get reelected, but to sit there and not have any conclusion to a problem, that’s not what we’re elected to do. I hate to get on my soapbox, but sometimes I’m sitting there with the single vote and gets a little frustrating and I don’t mind telling you that.”

There is a Freebee ride sharing service to get around town that begins at 7 a.m. every day. The number is 855-918-3733. You can call and they will pick you up for free and take you anywhere you want to go in the village.

If cost of gas is an issue for you, this is one way to counter that.

Salary of the village council will go up for referendum. At the moment the salary is $1,000 per month. The referendum would bring it up to $2,000 a month.

Rosenthal said, “If you do the job properly, I work at it every day. I would like to think that the other four members of the council do the same thing. It is a job. It’s not a ribbon cutting job, believe me. I’m very much in favor of competitive bidding for our lobbyists. I’m not very happy with their performance. We’ll see where that takes us.”

In 2021, the TDC (Tourist Development Council) took in $56 million.

Rosenthal said, “It’s quoted that it’s going to see a 37% increase this year. My question is I was a great proponent of tourism going back 40 years. At some point in time, enough is enough I think and we should be spending some of that money for housing, for workforce housing and workforce in general is a major, major problem, especially in the Upper Keys and I think the TDC should be pitching in a little bit to contribute to the problem. I would like to stick around for a little while and see if can improve some of these problems and solve them. That’s just another thing that’s on my plate. That’s what I’m there for. To make it work in the interest of the community. That’s what it’s all about. That’s the reward that you get. It’s not the money. It’s the reward of the accomplishment and things you can do for the city. It’s very important.”